Meghalaya Guv wonders govt silence on rat-hole mines

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Shillong, Oct 20 (UNI) Meghalaya Governor R S Mooshahary today expressed surprise at the government's silence over the rat hole, unhealthy environment and land degrading coal mining practices carried out in the coal belt areas.

'' Surprisingly the organizations or individuals who are opposing uranium mining are silent on unscientific extraction of coal,'' Mr Mooshahary said, while releasing the 6th State of India's Environment report, published by New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment at St Edmund's College here.

Recently, a team of CSE scientists discovered that water found in all the coal-belt areas of Jaintia Hills were highly acidic, with a PH below 4.

The CSE found that the most of the water bodies in the region had no aquatic life.

''Because of the unscientific coal mining the people will soon have to relocate themselves, government and civil society cannot simply say they cannot do anything about it,'' the Governor lamented.

Commenting on the proposed uranium mining in the state, Mr Mooshahary said except for a few individuals and organisations the local inhabitants who are stakeholders want uranium mining to take place.

'' Development through mining must take place but it must be built around the framework of compensation, benefit sharing, community development, social and economic reconstruction,'' he said.

He, however, cautioned that indiscriminate use of limited natural resources will trigger imbalance in nature and endanger life.

State Chief Secretary Ranjan Chatterjee admitted that the government has failed in ensuring that coal mine owners practices scientific mining and, '' we don't even get to know if a miner dies while working inside the mine.'' He, however, said that as of now the government doesn't have a mining policy and the State Environment and Pollution Control Board is ''toothless.'' On uranium mining, Mr Chatterjee said ''this is a highly emotional issue'' and lamented that debate against and for the mining has not been an ''informed debate.'' ''If there were informed debates those who are now opposing mining of uranium will not do so,'' he opined.

CSE Director, Sunita Narain, who echoed Mr Chatterjee, said the debate in Meghalaya should be towards ensuring an effective system is put in place before mining is given a green signal in Domiasiat.

'' Mining in Meghalaya will probably requires the world's best mitigation and containment plan which the Uranium Corporation of India Limited will have to come up,'' she said.

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